Monday, March 03, 2008

Organ Markets

In poking around online for my column, I came across a nice brief piece from about organ markets, Eight Ethical Objections to an Organ Market...And Why They're Wrong. I haven't heard an objection to organ markets that isn't on this list.


Bryce said...

I don't think organ selling is any more ethically troublesome than current medical technologies in use such as in vitro fertilization, but I do have a couple of other points.

First, I don't think organ markets will ever occur because it would result in assigning market value to organs, and indirectly, human life (If I were to die, I would be worth X amount to my recipients). I believe the vast majority of people (without econ. degrees) would have a major problem with this, even if they couldn't explain why. And yes, I realize life insurance does exactly this, but market value doesn't determine your life insurance payoff.

Second. I believe the increase in organ supplies that a market would create would increase the occurance of situations like reported on

The lewrockwell article's assertion that doctors make too much money to be tempted by these types of situations is absolutely false. Everyone has a price. This is especially problematic for patients with reduced capacity to make their own informed choices (children, mentally handicapped or unresponsive patient) and for patients who are especially vulnerable to coercion (prisoners). Medical law is incredibly protective of such individuals and I don't see that changing.

"This organ donor got knocked silly and has a 5% chance of surviving. But he's worth $500,000 to me dead..."

If money changes hands when someone dies, abuse will inevitably occur. I say that increasing the supply would increase the abuse.

But then again, I'm not an economist...

man I hate word verification

Justin M Ross said...

Regarding Bryce's second point, I would expect it to decrease that type of activity precisely because the shortage will have been cleared through market forces. Particularly because the property rights will be clearly assigned to the patient (or estate) rather than the doctor. I cannot see this turning out any other way.